Our culture has socialized us to associate drama with love. A relationship isn't real or meaningful unless we're fighting and crying all the time, right? How else can you tell that you and your partner care about one another? While that might work in movies (it shouldn't) that kind of behavior is actually toxic IRL. And spotting when you're in a toxic relationship can be hard, since we've disguised the whole concept so heavily with romance.
I've been in several toxic relationships in my life, and I'd wish I'd gotten out of all of them sooner. In fact, I stayed in one of them five years, mostly because I couldn't identify the signs. And in fact, I kind of liked some of my boyfriend's behavior. Sick, I know.
Basically, my ex didn't want me spending any time with my friends, because he liked spending all of our time together. "Finally, a guy who was super into me!" I thought to myself. Eventually, I realized I wasn't talking to my friends or my family, and I only had him to rely on, which sucked when he started treating me like sh*t. Then, he started going through my phone, saying that if I wasn't up to anything shady, I wouldn't have anything to hide. Little did I know these weren't the behaviors of someone who loved me, but of a relationship that was highly toxic.
So here are some red flags that you're in a toxic relationship and should get out ASAP. Life is too short to be unhappy and unsafe.
1. They Isolate You
“[They] may not like your best friend. [They] may even complain you talk to your family too often,” Parikh said. “The goal is to isolate you from your support network, making you an easy target for emotional manipulation and abuse.”
If you're feeling isolated in your relationship due to the actions of your partner, it's time to question your relationship.
2. They Snoop
“A controlling partner may feel entitled to have access to your email, phone, or internet history,” Parikh explained to Elite Daily. However, these things are none of your partner's business. You are entitled to your privacy.
If your significant other is trying to get full access to all your personal accounts, this is just another means of smothering and controlling you — which is not OK. This is not normal relationship behavior, no matter what your partner says or how badly they make you feel if you say no.
3. They Gaslight You
Kali Rogers, founder of Blush Online Coaching, told Elite Daily that gaslighting, or the act of your partner blaming you for or making you feel crazy for their own bad relationship behaviors, is another means of toxic relationship behaviors.
"For instance, if a person in a relationship feels hurt by another's actions, instead of apologizing, the partner might instead say, 'You're just sensitive,' or 'You never understand what is going on in front of you,'" she said. "It's a highly manipulative tactic that should be called out immediately, and if used frequently, it's grounds for terminating the relationship."
I once had a partner who would get physically abusive, and then say, "Why do you make me act this way? I hate when you force me to get like this?" as if his behaviors were my fault. If someone is mistreating you, don't take responsibility for their actions. Leave.
4. You Make Excuses For Their Behavior
“In a healthy relationship, you don't make excuses to yourself or others about your partner,” she explained. However, if you're constantly covering up your significant other's more harmful activities, it might be a sign of something more serious.
5. You Lack Independence
Rogers also told Elite Daily that lacking autonomy and independence in a relationship is also a sign of toxicity: "Having your own autonomy is so critical to not only your overall happiness, but for your relationship's as well."
She continued, "Being able to enjoy your own private moments with friends and family is essential to having your own identity and maintaining your independence while also in a relationship." So if you're dealing with a controlling, smothering, or jealous partner, you might also be dealing with a toxic relationship.
If you think you might be in a toxic relationship, know that you deserve better. And if your toxic relationship might be bordering on abuse, know that you can seek help. If you or someone you know might be in trouble, reach out to the The National Domestic Violence Hotline online, or call 1-800-799-7233.
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